Pregnancy and Lactation Weekly Digest

For the Week Ending December 3, 2017.


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The (Inadequately Named) Children’s Health Insurance Program

The Children’s Health Insurance Program, CHIP for short, also insures pregnant women in some states. It’s funding is currently up for discussion by Congress; if it does not get renewed, pregnant women – and the babies they carry – will lose the care they need. Read more here.

This is important for you because if you have insurance – be grateful, take advantage of it by pursuing adequate care, and advocate for those who don’t.

Forever Young

Sperm cells are continuously made in adult men, but women come preloaded with a lifetime supply of egg cells when they are born. Scientists have long wondered: since the egg cells are as old as the women, how can they result in a brand new (cellularly speaking) baby? New observations in worm cells may provide part of the answer; right before fertilization, the eggs receive a signal from the nearby sperm that induces them to clean out all of the old, damaged proteins that they (like all cells) harbor. The same thing happens in frogs, and although it is reasonable to suspect that it happens in people too that has not yet been demonstrated. Read more here.

This is important for you because its cool, right?

Contingency Plans

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has just recommended that hospitals draft specific guidelines for the care of maternity patients and infants in case a disaster strikes, natural or otherwise. These cataclysmic events are not so rare anymore; there is no longer any excuse for unpreparedness. Read more here.

This is important for you because it is comforting to know that when the next hurricane, shooting spree, or epidemic arrives your hospital will be ready for you.

Maria vs. Zika

Among everything that was (and still is) disrupted by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico is an NIH funded study on the risks of infection with the Zika virus while pregnant. Fortunately, the blood and other samples that had been collected for study are intact; but study participants, and conductors, are still facing significant challenges. Read more here.

This is important for you because few people consider the effect that power outages have on biological research with sensitive frozen samples, but they can be dire.

Babies aren’t cheap

In most of the world, giving birth is free or just about so. That is definitely not the case here in the US. This is partially due to the fact that many mothers and babies often receive tests and procedures they don’t really need – including C-sections – and is exacerbated by the fact that the US has pretty poor paid leave policies for new parents. Read more here.

This is important for you because well, that should be clear.

The most popular article on The Pulse this week was Job Hunting While Pregnant – What You Need to Know. Among the most important is the fact that potential employers are legally not permitted to ask you anything about your pregnancy or your plans after birth, and are obviously not permitted to make hiring decisions based on these factors. Still – that doesn’t mean it never happens. Read it here.

Diana Gitig
Dr. Diana Gitig has a Ph.D. in cell biology and genetics from Cornell University, and has been writing about issues in biology – from molecular biology to cancer to immunology to neuroscience to nutrition to agriculture - for the past fifteen years. She has three teenaged children.

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